Email Marketing Tips: Avoiding the Spam Filters

June 1, 2020

Avoiding the Spam Filters

You might be offering the very best value in the world, but if your subject lines aren’t conveying this then it won’t matter. Without the right subject line, no one will open your emails and what’s more, they’ll likely just end up in the spam box!

Did you know that 1/3rd of your readers will open emails or delete them based on the subject line alone? As you can see then, this is a pretty important area to consider.

Getting Past the Spam Filters

If you haven’t yet, watch the video above – it’s not mine BUT it’s short and sweet and you’ll definitely know more after watching it.

The #1 MOST important thing is that your subjects and the emails themselves are able to get past the spam filters. If you don’t do this, then people will never even get the chance to open your emails!

To do this, you need to understand how spam filters work. And basically, this is in a manner similar to Google. Spam filters have scripts that will sift through the content in each new email, looking for keywords. When they find a keyword that is associated with a message being spam, then it will get sent to that folder.

What are these keywords? Well they’re different for every email client so you’re not going to be able to find a complete list anywhere. Some common ones though include:

  • Download
  • Store
  • Shop
  • Money Back
  • Gambling
  • Viagra
  • Handbags

Take a look through your own spam box and try and see what kind of content is in there. Look for words that occur regularly and then avoid them!

Likewise though, spam filters also go beyond this and will look at a wide range of factors to decide whether the content is valuable or not. Again, this works very similarly to Google.

For instance, spam filters look at the ratio of images to text. If this is too high or too low, then that will be flagged up. Likewise, the length of the content is also taken into account. If you have too many words then this will be considered a warning sign but the same also goes for very short emails.

Designing high quality content will help you to automatically side-step many of these problems. If you’re delivering great quality information that people want to read, then the spam filter will have no reason to block you. And the more advanced the spam filter becomes, the less likely you’ll be to get blocked.

This is the best strategy because it’s future proof. The same goes for SEO too – keep delivering great content for your website and you’ll find that Google will want to help people find you. The more Google develops their algorithm, the better your chance of being found.

Something else you can do though is simply to ask your readers to white list you and to ask them to put you in their ‘main inbox’. This might seem simplistic but it really works – if you have followed all the advice in this book up to this point then your readers should be excited to hear from you and they should be loving what they’ve seen so far. If you then ask them to make sure they get to see your emails, why wouldn’t they? And this will help you to develop a good reputation among spam filters.

That’s right – you can actually develop a ‘sender reputation’ over time that might get considered by spam filters across the board. Another important reason to play by the rules!

If you want to find out what your current sender reputation is, then you can do so by checking out This way, you’ll be able to see if you’re blacklisted by many email clients.

Another tip is to get email sender accreditation from a third party ISP. This will help you to ensure you develop your reputation for the better.

Finally, avoid using huge images and implement alt-tags so that the spam filters know what they are.
If you do all this, then it will help you to avoid the spam filters and as we’ll see, it will also help with the ‘human spam filters’.

subject lines

Writing Subject Lines That People Want to Read

Because in fact, humans work in a very similar way when they’re looking through their emails and filtering out spam. Most of us are in a rush whenever we’re checking email so what we tend to do is just run our eyes down the list of subjects and senders and look out for ‘keywords’ that tell us if something is worth opening.

And you know what always puts us off?

Anything that sounds like marketing. As we mentioned at the start of this ebook, people are currently bombarded with marketing
messages and most of us are sick of it.

What’s more, it’s highly unlikely that what essentially boils down to an advert is going to be at all interesting or worth our time reading. It’s transparent, it’s irritating and it offers no value.

Your job then is once again to not sound like a marketer. That means you need to sound like a great article, or you need to sound almost like a friend or contact. That is one of the reasons that using the subscribers’ names in your subjects can be very effective. This is a keyword we look for when trying to find the messages we dowant to open.

Similarly, using ‘re:’ (which means ‘regarding’) at the start of your email can make it look like part of an email thread, which gets more clicks. Another good strategy is to ask a question, or to invite a comment – by seeming more conversational like this, you can set yourself apart from all the marketing talk.

And what’s more, is that people absolutely love giving their opinion and feeling important.

Ask for feedback, or ask if people would be interested in helping. Just make sure that you aren’t tricking your audience – always ensure that the content inside the email reflects the subject line.

Meanwhile, you also want to display the value in your subject and you want to make sure that your emails sound interest. Better yet, try to leverage some of the curiosity of your audience.

This is something that the much-maligned ‘click bait’ articles do very well. Clickbait is any title that is designed just to get people to click on it: and normally to accomplish this it will use emotionally manipulative strategies.

These are the articles on Facebook with titles like: “You’ll never guess what this terrible mother does to her kid next!” or “Amazing super food that’s more powerful than steroids… but should it be illegal?”.

Check out a few Clickbait examples here:


These articles get us to click because they use titles that stand out and that make us highly curious. If we leave the page without clicking on them, we’re left wondering what they possibly could have been about.

But while these topics might be very effective at getting clicks, they’re also terrible for building trust and authority. That’s because the emails (or blog posts in the above examples) can never deliver on their promise. The result is that the reader feels tricked and as though they wasted their time.

Your job, is to use subject or titles that are just as eye grabbing and as interesting – but that you actually have something meaty to write about on. That might mean talking about a new study, a little known technique, or the psychological implications of your line of work. If you use the advice we discussed earlier on writing high quality content, then this should come easily.

At the same time though, remember that most email clients only show 50 characters for their subject line. That means you can’t make your subject too long or it will get clipped and no one will see the whole thing!

Any questions? Let me know below!


About the author 

Jeff Lenney

Welcome to my corner of the internet! I'm Jeff Lenney, your navigator through the exciting seas of Affiliate Marketing, SEO, and ECommerce. My journey started back in 2009, and since then, it's been a whirlwind of success and fun in the digital world.

Before I dove headfirst into the vast ocean of affiliate marketing, I honed my SEO skills with some of the biggest agencies in sunny Southern California. I've been the SEO compass for 7-9 figure giants like Agora Financial, Investor Place, and Timothy Sykes, guiding them through the complex currents of online visibility.

But wait, there's more! I've also worked quite extensively with affiliate marketing legends like Anik Singal, Jimmy Kim, Aidan Booth, Dori Friend & others. Did I mention I was Anik's head coach from 2012 to 2015? Yeah, I've been around the block a few times!

My expertise isn't just confined to the boardroom. I've shared my knowledge and experiences on numerous podcasts, shedding light on the intricate dance of affiliate SEO.

So, whether you're a seasoned pro looking to catch the next big wave or just dipping your toes into the digital marketing ocean, I've got a treasure trove of insights for you. Stick around for fun tales, savvy strategies, and maybe a few laughs as we debunk myths and explore the latest trends in the world of online marketing. 

Dive into my posts and let's make some waves together! ✋ My Name is Jeff Lenney. I'm an Affiliate Marketer, and Search Engine Optimization Expert with over 10 years experience. I like to talk about marketing, SEO & ECommerce, so read my other posts here: Jeff Lenney's Articles

  • Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for this great article. The link to dnsstuff is misspelled and goes to all sorts of places, except where it should. Once I got to the correct domain I found a fascinating amount of information about one of my domains and I shall go back to check others too.

    It looks like the best way to stay out of the spam box is also the best way to write articles – provide value, avoid ‘spam-worthy’ words and write interesting headlines. I’d be interested to see more on this though.


    Steven Lucas

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